To FWB or to not FWB
March 15, 2020 5:53 PM   Subscribe

For the past few months, I've (31) been FWB with this guy (34). He's in an open relationship. We chose not to date because we want different things in life, and he is a player. He's not objectively physically attractive but I'm strongly attracted to him. Possibly because we have a very strong intellectual connection and chemistry. Up till recently, he was a bit of a scumbag (mean jokes), but he's been very careful after I made it clear I wouldn't put up with it.

Reasons why I should continue this arrangement:
1) He's unavailable and therefore I don't have to worry about things becoming serious. I've been burned by two serious relationships in the past and am focusing on my career.
2) Good times in bed. I have had numerous other FWBs/flings in the past 2 years but they've all made me feel underwhelmed/empty. I actually dread sleeping with other men now.
3) I've said and done some horrible things to him, yet he's always eager to see me.

Reasons why I should end things:
1) Mental fuckery. Every time we sleep together, I end up confused about my feelings because it's very intimate (hand-holding, prolonged eye contact). And he is always trying to learn more about me, almost like he's studying for an exam. But then a week later, I remember how much of a terrible personality he has, how this mental fuckery is probably deliberate on his part, and then I think of I should go out and meet actually decent men.
2) It would prevent me from investing time and energy in trying to meet a good match. I don't want to be in a relationship (I don't want to have kids) but I feel like there are fewer and fewer good men the older I get. I don't want to get invested and hurt again. On the other hand, I don't want to end up alone or end up settling either.
posted by kinoeye to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What you describe sounds more like hate fucking than FWB.

You're terrible to him. He is terrible to you. I am sure that adds some spice to the sex, but do you really want a person you don't like or trust in your life, never mind in your bed?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:59 PM on March 15, 2020 [30 favorites]

To me it sounds like he might be getting into you to whatever or some degree, such that you might want to think about moving on before it gets any more postcoitally confusing. I don't think his forgiving what you've felt guilty about is enough to stick around, given what else you've described.
posted by rhizome at 6:09 PM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I cannot fathom for one moment why you should continue seeing this person in any capacity.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 6:14 PM on March 15, 2020 [23 favorites]

Why is #3 a reason to continue your arrangement? Agreed this is at least in the same category as hate fucking, find a nicer buddy and consider whether disliking someone’s personality is how you create the emotional remove necessary to not “catch feels”—and whether this mechanism is healthy for your overall mental state.
posted by zinful at 6:23 PM on March 15, 2020 [11 favorites]

Why do you keep having sex that makes you feel underwhelmed/empty to the point where you dread it? Being a step up from that is better but the options are not "horrible sex" or "this guy."

It doesn't sound like FWB works for you at all, and this sounds like the best of a bad lot. If you want a relationship, try for one. It has to be better than sex that makes you feel terrible and hanging out with a guy who you can't care for :/
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:30 PM on March 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Having been in a similar situation with a charming douchebag, I say stop now. Mine spooled out for years and I regret it. The sooner you get away from this situation (and him) the better. I'm not saying it will be easy to drop the hot, fucked up fucking, but you will thank yourself later.
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:31 PM on March 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

This situationship sounds unhealthy. I think you should have ended it with the first mean joke.

Sure, there are a limited number of good men out there, so start looking for one!

You’ve described him as a scumbag with a terrible personality and constant mental fuckery, and your shared dynamic also brings out bad behaviour in you... so I would suggest that the man you currently have isn’t one of the good ones.

Maybe look into why sex with someone you don’t like feels good to you? Maybe some self esteem issues to unpack.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:34 PM on March 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just checking in to make sure it's clear that people who don't want to have kids can be in relationships.
posted by amtho at 6:39 PM on March 15, 2020 [18 favorites]

Millennials! "Friends with benefits" only works if you at least like the person.
posted by praemunire at 6:41 PM on March 15, 2020 [9 favorites]

Yeah there's a reason it's called friends with benefits. This doesn't sound like that.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:52 PM on March 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

You have another option besides continuing to hatefuck him or end it. You can end it, then address this: "I don't want to get invested and hurt again." That's a big thing that's going on in the background here. Now you're in this weirdass situation where you can't be with him because he's kind of an ass (and you're an ass to him as well) yet if you're not careful you might catch feelings what with the hand holding and prolonged eye contact and him learning about you.

So because you don't want to get invested and hurt again, you're avoiding serious relationships and this is the situation you've decided to get involved in? Ok, maybe the causal link isn't that direct, but it's still kinda there. Therefore, I give you permission to: 1. feel hurt by the people that hurt you in the past 2. get help dealing with it (i.e. therapy, you knew I was going to say that) and 3. want to have a lifelong partner that wants to be with you and values you and to have a healthy relationship with. You're only 31, and you don't want kids, so you're not beholden to the biological clock. Take the time now to process your hurts so that you can set yourself up to find someone awesome in the future.
posted by foxjacket at 9:20 PM on March 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Every time we sleep together, I end up confused about my feelings

Please stop seeing this person immediately.

Please stop thinking only people who want children can be in relationships. It’s totally fine if you don’t want to be in a relationship. But the idea that the only people who get to be in relationships are people who want children is just wrong. It has no basis in fact.

Please follow the excellent advice given by foxjacket above. You are seeing a guy who is going to be a black hole. I have done similar things and, honestly, I think it’s a form of self abuse. Cut it out. Go figure out why you think you deserve shitty relationships. There are alternatives that do not involve wedding rings and babies or shitty FWBs. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:57 AM on March 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

This will not end well. This guy is a type, he will never ever be yours. That's a good thing though, because he's one of those not conventionally attractive dudes who knows exactly what to say and do to get what he wants, which is to have sex and win (and you made yourself a very compelling conquest target by being mean to him, that's freaking catnip to guys like this).
You might think he's for real because you think other women don't necessarily see him as desirable because of his looks. This is wrong. I guarantee you that what this guy is doing with/to you he's done countless times before you and will do countless times after you.
Every time I'd fallen for something like this in my younger years I've always regretted it after. At least I can look back with bemusement, but still, I always wish I hadn't have fallen for it.
It's completely not worth it, you will never get what you need from this guy, and that intellectual connection? Thats BS. He's saying what he thinks you want to hear, I promise. Also, he's still a scumbag, just not in front of you.
posted by newpotato at 4:09 AM on March 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I want to echo foxjacket's advice above, and add that it sounds like your self esteem could do with a boost - therapy for sure, and maybe some time spent with yourself asking yourself what you really feel about yourself, whether you give yourself enough validation for your needs and wants?

For example, this is really telling:

I don't want to be in a relationship (I don't want to have kids) but I feel like there are fewer and fewer good men the older I get. I don't want to get invested and hurt again. On the other hand, I don't want to end up alone or end up settling either.

There is so much echoing through that paragraph. The one which stands out the most for me is that you say you don't want to be in a relationship, then concede that you don't want to be alone, but then reflexively add that you don't want to settle. It's ok to be really kind to yourself, to hear that "I don't want to be alone" and to say, well ok, lets address how to not be alone but to be happy as well. What does my ideal future look like, and what does my journey there look like?

Like foxjacket, I've got to say, therapy is probably your best route to what you need here - a self-esteem boost, a check-in with your wants and needs, and a kick in the arse to get rid of this toxic chap so that you can look ahead with a clear view.

PS. on this: I feel like there are fewer and fewer good men the older I get. - you're right, there probably are, but the thing they don't tell you is that once you get older and wiser*, you can spot the good ones easier, and can root out the shitty ones faster, so your odds aren't as bad as you think.


posted by greenish at 4:32 AM on March 16, 2020 [11 favorites]

You seem confused about whether or not you want to be looking for a long-term partner at this time. Decide that first. If you do, then your answer is clear.

If you don't, you should think about (1) whether it's really important for you to have regular sex (for me it really is; my mental health crashes out if I don't), and (2) whether he's your best option for it.

If (1) and (2) are both true, you can minimize the mental fuckery. Close your eyes, turn over, leave as soon as you're done. If that doesn't work from him, well, that also takes care of the decision for you.
posted by metasarah at 6:19 AM on March 16, 2020

Thanks, MeFi. Blocked and deleted his number. The comments on me avoiding relationships were unexpected and thought-provoking. Admittedly, there is a lot of trauma from my childhood and past relationships that need to be resolved as a first step. I guess now is a good time for that.
posted by kinoeye at 8:18 AM on March 16, 2020 [8 favorites]

Echoing praemunire and others to stress that the "F" in "FWB" is there for a reason. Would you put up with a friend whom you'd describe as "kind of a scumbag" engaging in periodic "mental fuckery?" That's not rhetorical, some folks are down with that because of whatever else the person brings to the table, but I think the fact you're asking this question points to some conflicted feelings.

There are men out there, I shit you not, who DON'T act like this. They won't necessarily be the love of your life but they will be able to have good sex without all the weirdness you describe, and which is clearly consuming a massive amount of mental bandwidth.

The "studying me like I'm an exam" part could mean anything. And you know what, you DO deserve that kind of focused interest and attention, just by virtue of being who you are. But taken with the other info we have on this dude (kind of jerky, likes headgames), it is NOT a guarantee of deep affection or healthy interest--it can also be highly predatory. I'm sure he IS attracted to you and all, but this can also be a way of gathering ammo for further psychological and emotional fuckery. Ask me how I know.

Either you consider this person so unique and exciting that he is not replaceable by another, less fraught casual relationship--in which case I'd gently suggest you re-evaluate how "casual" you really feel about this--OR you would really be much better served by finding someone who's down for a good time AND respects your boundaries AND whom you don't mistreat.
posted by peakes at 11:43 AM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

(Whoops, started my comment just before OP updated and hadn't refreshed the page--glad to hear you've decided to move on. It will feel sucky at first but six months from now you'll be glad you did.)
posted by peakes at 11:46 AM on March 16, 2020

« Older What can I bake with a jar of Smucker's Goober?   |   I want to do some Star Trek kitbashing. Do I have... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.